Long before the Internet came along, car guys, who have always been good at networking, told many stories of cars found, fields of classic cars and barn finds (Jay Leno, you know what I'm talking about, I watch your show). For years, I had heard of some guy in Illinois who had three Quonset huts filled with classic cars and parts. Last week, thanks to a Craigslist ad, I found my Holy Grail.
Getting off I-39 at the Tonica exit in Illinois I found a place to make American Pickers thrilled. It was a beat-up house, with a beat-up fence, with beat-up cars out front. A pickers paradise. I met with the owner, Mitch, a man with a big smile, who looked as rough and grizzled as the cars out front, standing around a gas heater with some of the local guys, one who was drinking beer. At 8 AM.
I drove the beer drinking guy about five miles to where the Quonset huts were. Inside I found one shed with rechromed bumpers (I bought 4), some rusty body panels and piles of hubcaps. All the sheds had cars including a '63 Studebaker Lark that had two front clips welded together like an automotive pushmi-pullu. Other finds included a '64 Rambler American in decent shape, Some Datsun Zs, a DAF (Dutch I think), a clapped out Willys Overland and a butchered Buick Lesabre wagon from the late 80's made into a pickup.
The barns had a horror movie style to them, with holes in the walls and floors and taillights hanging from the ceiling along with grilles and trim parts. Scary even in the morning daylight. What if Freddy Kruger comes back as a junkman? Just put a sawzall in his hands and you have the next sequel.
As I left Mitch told me to come back, that he had more buildings full of parts. I'll go back when the weather warms up. There is a campground close by, but I'm not sure if staying in a campground in the middle of Illinois is the safest thing. Maybe I'll just go for the cheap econo hotel instead, where the scariest thing I have to worry about is bedbugs.